Congressional delegation calls for WMD investigation

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy is calling for a formal investigation to determine if the Bush administration manipulated intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Senator James Jeffords and Congressman Bernie Sanders also believe this issue needs to be resolved.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Did the Bush administration intentionally mislead the Congress and the American public concerning Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction? That’s the question a number of Democrats are asking in Washington this week and they’re calling for a formal investigation into this issue.

Senator Leahy, who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says it will be a very serious situation if no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq:

(Leahy) “And if it turns out that all the things that we were telling the whole world as well as our own people are not accurate, then we have a real problem of credibility. It was such an extraordinary step for the United States to engage in a preemptive war in a major part of the world, that whether one agrees or disagrees with us going to war, I think everybody would agree we better have our reasons down.”

(Kinzel) Senator James Jeffords says a failure to find these weapons will show that the administration was simply seeking a convenient excuse to go to war:

(Jeffords) “I have deep concerns about it. I think the decision was made to go to war and they were going to find a way to get there and that’s what the decision was made. I’m not proud of that fact, that we went to war when we were obligated to stick with the United Nations until such time as it was a real threat to this nation.”

(Kinzel) Congressman Bernie Sanders also believes that there needs to be a special investigation into this matter:

(Sanders) “If there were no weapons of mass destruction, the American people have an absolute right to know why the president told us that. As you know, there are people in the intelligence agencies – our own intelligence agencies – who are leaking information that said they were being pressured by the White House to say what they did not believe to be accurate. And if that’s the case, that is a serious problem.”

(Kinzel) The future of a formal investigation is uncertain because Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have been unable to agree on the scope of an inquiry by their panel.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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